Burgess uproots plan for garden

Plans for a community garden to be built on this piece of land behind Cross Street Intermediate School in Naugatuck have been changed following concerns raised by neighbors.  -FILE PHOTO
A plan to build a community garden on this  land behind Cross Street Intermediate School in Naugatuck has been changed following concerns raised by neighbors. -FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — Residents of an east side neighborhood have raised concerns regarding a proposal to make a community garden at Cross Street Intermediate School.

Residents of Meadowbrook Place, a small cul-de-sac off Cross Street that is next to the school, recently condemned the idea at a hearing before the Planning Commission. Their opposition has forced Burgess Alexander Olbrys to pull the application from the land use department and consider another location.

“This needs to be a value to the people who are living near it,” he said. “So if it wasn’t going to be, then we should respect them and find another location.”

Olbrys, a first-term Republican who at 22 is the youngest burgess on the borough’s governing board, made the community garden his first initiative in office. He said he wanted a place for community members to build camaraderie while doing something they enjoy. He thought it would be a positive project for the borough.

However, the Meadowbrook Place residents cited concerns about increased traffic on Cross Street and children’s safety at the school, even though the Board of Education approved the plan.

Olbrys is now thinking a community garden could be placed on land the borough recently purchased on Andrew Mountain or in the Naugatuck Industrial Park. The town of Plymouth, in Litchfield County, recently placed its community garden in its industrial park, giving Olbrys the idea.

“Andrew Mountain might be tough because there is no water, but there is in the industrial park,” he said. “If there is space available that is not going to be used for development, it could be a good idea.”

He also said he’s speaking with fellow Burgess Rocky Vitale, who is trying to get a dog park in town, about combining a community garden near a dog park.

And, he said, residents at Meadowbrook Place suggested having a children’s community garden at Cross Street, and he may take them up on the idea.

Several municipalities in Connecticut have community gardens, including Southbury, New Haven, Milford, Darien and Greenwich.

The Connecticut Community Gardening Association says community gardens help build communities and the environment by claiming land for environmentally friendly use.